The Challenge

Friday, August 27, 2010 - 11:09

Challenge - something that by its very nature serves as a call to special effort. After a summer of experiences other than formal education, this fall I will be working with the students at Cerro Coso Community College as a librarian and educational support tutor. After getting my feet wet, I'll actually teach online as well - rather than theorize.


How will my previous posts about online instruction look in the face of a real teaching experience? In public education, my classroom…

Tai Chi Retreat

Thursday, July 1, 2010 - 19:02

Slowly in groups of two and three chatting quietly, the people emerge from the San Ysidro dorm to assemble in the parking lot surrounded by California oaks. Although we are in downtown Montecito, the only sounds we hear are the low voices and the birds. It's seven in the morning as we line up and face the instructor. "Ok. Let's warm up."

We shake our hands, twirl our ankles and warm our knees to wake up. We begin the day with a full set of the 108 moves of Yang style Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan).…


Tuesday, June 29, 2010 - 19:40

"Mother had me upstairs," said my mother. "She didn't come down for three weeks."

Knowing my grandmother, the first thing she did was put on the apron and wash everything. I remember her cooking biscuits best - lofty white creations with brown crusty tops, steaming as they waited for my butter. Every morning she would ask about our bathroom business. I learned what to answer if I didn't want the large glass of prune juice. Afternoons she would sew. The whir and pause of the old black Singer was…

Focus on Students

Tuesday, May 25, 2010 - 11:28

This last weekend I went to Great Basin College in Elko, NV to watch a former student (and adopted daughter) graduate with an AA in Applied Science (Electrical Systems Technology). She graduated Magna Cum Laude and did 70 credits in one year. She would not have her high school diploma without the individual focus and support she had from her small high school, High Desert Academy. That school is now closing due to financial declines in the district. I am endlessly proud of the staff and students that…

Online Civil Debate

Sunday, May 23, 2010 - 20:29

In examining the change in "mindscape" in an online class, we were talking about a "civil debate". Setting rules for this in the classroom is a skill we all develop as teachers but in the online realm things are different. There were two pieces that relate to the change in using an online discussion.

First, often what seems acceptable in a F2F encounter can come off cold or abrupt in an online settling. We just don't get the humor or the facial/ body language things that make a contradictory…

New Frontiers?

Sunday, April 25, 2010 - 10:11

"Second life is ideally suited for (at least) two kinds of learning activities - empathy-based learning and encounter learning. Second Life is inherently a random-access, exploratory environment. That offers a third "E" to this list of educational modes that are natural to Second Life:

- Empathy
- Encounter
- Exploration
* Rules (Logic, conceptual/factual structure)
* Play (Learning activity, processing)
* Culture"

(LaChapelle, 2007) (blog RE presentation by …

The Other World

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 - 08:33

Have you visited Farmville? Adopted a Virtual Family, been to the world of the SIMs or been the god of a bunch of virtual villagers? Two things lead me into this strange new way to live - studying how to teach online and boredom. Unable to fall asleep and not the biggest fan of late night TV, I tried the virtual family game that came free with my computer. Afterwards I found I just couldn't leave it alone! How is the little family doing? Do they have enough food? Are they tired? Did they ever pick up…

How Many Can You Name?

Sunday, March 14, 2010 - 11:14

Elizabeth Green in the NYT Magazine of March 10th comments on how to build a better teacher. With the headlines screaming a new age of "carrots" from the revision of the NCLB legislation by Team Obama, how does this fit in? Uncommon Schools' Doug Lemov has an answer - or rather 49 of them in his Taxonomy being published in April, Teach Like a Champion. I counted 9 examples out of 49 in the article and on the website:

1. Strong Voice

2. Cold Call

3. Precise Praise


Fifteen Minutes

Wednesday, March 10, 2010 - 18:58

After Reading Shakespeare with the Ninth Graders

Working as a substitute, I had 15 minutes and no lesson so I asked the 9th graders to write on Love and War after reading a passage from "Romeo and Juliet". I never ask my class to do something I would not attempt. Here's my 15 minutes with no editing. Such fun! Linked by passion, Love and War are siblings. The seemingly softer sister, Love, can be as cruel as her stronger brother can be filled with tender regret. The bond of the soldiers in…

Engaging Online Students

Sunday, March 7, 2010 - 14:46

Having been on both sides of the room so to speak, I am perplexed as to how to engage the "social capital" of online students who don't - just don't. In a classroom I would stand beside them or ask them questions but with a "class" of 100 or so, how can an online instructor keep up with who's sleeping in the back of the room or who's just checked out and is texting their boyfriend? In a physical classroom I have a sense of juggling the plates. Keeping everyone spinning at once, I enjoy the tension. But…